An interesting experiment at Modern Art Oxford with the exhibition ‘Love Is Enough’ on the work of British artist and designer William Morris and the American artist Andy Warhol as the curator Jeremy Deller seeks to highlight their similarities, while the century that separates them shows a considerable stylistic difference in their work. There were similarities – both produced prints and books and took a great personal interest in their factory production; both reflected on the societies of their time; both had an interest in Camelot – for Morris it was the Arthurian legend; for Warhol is was the world of Hollywood, but it is visually difficult to relate the two as they are so stylistically different. The elaborate detail in Morris’ work suffocates the modernity of Warhol, especially when Warhol’s work is hung on a wall of Morris’ wallpaper. The exhibition works best in the room which shows their books on separate shelves so that direct parallels can be drawn.
A new departure for Modern Art Oxford, which generally shows works work of contemporary artists, often with installations specially designed for the gallery spaces, in some ways this is three exhibitions. one on the work of Morris, another of the work of Warhol, and then a third trying to link the two. It is worth seeking for either of the first two alone, but does the third work? Richard Dorment in the Daily Telegraph does not think so: “Love is Enough is a show that tries to draw parallels between Warhol and Morris – and it falls flat on its face.”
The review in Artylist is more balanced: “Both artists had impressive multi-layered careers; they were the true contemporaries and revolutionaries of their day; being perceived as very modern artists. Where Morris begins factory reproduction that is prescient of ever-increasing and varying reproduction in the 20th century; Warhol was, through his own use of ‘pre-Richard Prince’ appropriation and reproduction: really the first 21st century artist. An artist that in fact predicted the viral nature of the internet. The idea that the image should be everywhere and everything should be available. As Deller stated: “If Warhol was alive now he would own huge parts of the internet. It wouldn’t be ‘Google’ – it would be ‘Warhol’.”
If art exhibitions show attract controversy for their ideas, then this is one to see.